With an eye on the food allergy community as a unique group of consumers since 2008, we're on a quest to find and share ways to continue enjoying the good things in life.

22 February 2013

Open Letter to Oreo

Dear Oreo,

Every day, more than 10% of the visitors to Food Allergy Buzz come in search of allergen information about Oreos. On any given day, they may search for:

Oreo and peanut/treenut allergy
Oreo food allergy information
Oreo unsafe food production
Oreos peanut free
Do Oreos contain nuts
Are Oreos peanut tree nut free
Are Oreos nut free
Are Oreo cookies made with tree nuts

Most of the questions pertain to the presence of peanuts and tree nuts. It's easy enough to read the ingredient list on the package but the mystery lies in what goes on at the factory where Oreos are made. Other consumers like me have probably noticed the Peanut Butter Creme Oreos, Double Stuf Peanut Butter Creme Oreos, and Peanut Butter Oreo Fudge Cremes on supermarket shelves. It's not surprising that consumers managing peanut and nut allergies wonder: are "regular" and non-peanut butter Oreos made on the same machines or in the same facility as these peanut butter varieties?

I have written to Oreo a few times over the years and received a helpful reply in 2012, but it still left unanswered questions about the presence of tree nuts in the Oreo production facility and Oreo production lines as well as which, if any, of the non-peanut butter varieties of Oreos are produced in a facility where peanuts or peanut-containing products are present. For individuals managing food allergies, risk of cross-contamination is important since some individuals do react to trace amounts of their allergen-to-avoid. A research study in 2007, entitled Consumer attitudes and risks associated with packaged foods having advisory labeling regarding the presence of peanuts determined that 6.5% of pre-packaged foods made in shared facilities contain peanut protein. 

I am hoping this public letter to Oreo will help draw attention to these questions. It would be immensely helpful for those managing peanut and nut allergies, as well as other food allergies, to be able to access more information about the presence of top 8 allergens at the Oreo manufacturing facility. Ingredient information isn't really enough, especially when there are so many peanut butter varieties of Oreos. I'd be pleased to help Oreo put these questions to rest once and for all. After all, Oreos are "America's Favorite Cookie"!

Thank you for your help. I look forward to hearing from you.

With kind regards,
Jennifer B


Missy said...

I'm learning that allergy friendly food is not necessarily healthy food. Your article is a perfect example.

Cara said...

One of the most pressing current public health issues, making Oreos allergy friendly. 😗

Jennifer Buteau said...

Cara, the post is about clearer labeling, not changing the ingredients or manufacturing processes.

Victor Ly said...

Missy: I was not aware that allergen-free food is supposed to be or is generally known as being healthy.

Cara: This was not meant to be a public health issue. It's asking a company for more transparent labeling regarding a product that may cause allergic reactions in some people.

Victor Ly said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Heather said...

Its always helpful for us allergy parents when the labels are clear. Oreos are always a mystery. Some packages my FA son would eat and some he says "taste funny". This lead me to believe that they are manufactured on the same equipment, or possibly the same facility. We stopped buying them because I was getting nervous and felt unsure.

Jenny said...

Thank you Jennifer for this important labeling discussion! All labels should be clear and not require a special academic degree to decipher. :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you SO much!! I want to hug you right now! It's all about clearer labeling!

With two kids ana to peanuts and peanut oil, one being contact senstive...cross contamination is a scary thing.

One of the scariest places for us, Earth Fare with the make your own peanut butter machine! Or other upscale whole foods markets with their open bins of nuts...when I walked through I felt like I was going to faint. No joke. So NO, "allergy friendly" food doesn't mean healthy.